Night delight: ‘supermoon’ to grace Earth’s skies

admin   •   November 14, 2016   •   6120

image_14-nov-2016_reuters_supermoon

 

The largest, brightest full moon in nearly seven decades will be on display in the coming days, promising Earth-bound sky-watchers a celestial “supermoon” spectacle.

The full moon will come nearer to Earth than at any time since 1948, astronomers said. At closest approach, which occurs at 6:23 a.m. EST on Monday, the moon will pass within 216,486 miles (348,400 km) of Earth’s surface, about 22,000 miles (35,400 km) closer than average, they added.

The moon’s distance from Earth varies because it is in an egg-shaped, not circular, orbit around the planet.

If skies are clear, the upcoming full moon will appear up to 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than usual, making it what is called a supermoon, according to NASA. A supermoon occurs when the timing of a full moon overlaps with the point in the moon’s 28-day orbit that is closest to Earth. About every 14th full moon is a supermoon, said University of Wisconsin astronomer Jim Lattis.

The next time a full moon comes as close to Earth will be in 2034.

“If you could stack up full moons next to each other, there is clearly a difference,” Lattis said, but to a casual observer it is going to look very similar to a regular full moon.

Weather permitting, sky-watchers in North America and locations east of the International Dateline will have a better view on Sunday night since the moon will set less than three hours after closest approach on Monday.

“The difference in distance from one night to the next will be very subtle, so if it’s cloudy on Sunday, go out on Monday. Any time after sunset should be fine,” Noah Petro, deputy project scientist for NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, said in a statement. — Reuters

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Gaze into the sky and witness a supermoon on April 27

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Hope for clear skies as the full moon on Tuesday (April 27) will be a supermoon, according to Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

The state weather bureau said the moon will appear bigger and brighter than a regular full moon during its peak from 11:22 to 11:32 p.m.

The full moon will have a perigee distance of 357,378 kilometers (km) away from Earth, which is the “closest that the moon comes to the earth in its elliptic orbit.”

PAGASA said the term ‘supermoon’, popularized by astrologer Richard Nolle, is astrological in origin and has no precise astronomical definition. AAC

NASA’s Mars Helicopter makes historic first flight

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 20, 2021

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) made history after the successful flight of its Ingenuity Mars Helicopter  on another planet.

According to NASA, its Ingenuity team at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California confirmed that the flight was a success after receiving data from the helicopter via NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover.

Altimeter data indicate Ingenuity climbed to its prescribed maximum altitude of 10 feet (3 meters) and maintained a stable hover for 30 seconds.

JPL developed the guidance, navigation, and control systems running algorithms to pilot Ingenuity.

NASA associate administrator for Science, Thomas Zurbuchen announced that the team named the airfield, where the Ingenuity Helicopter traversed, as Wright Brothers Field as an homage to the two innovative bicycle makers.

“Now, 117 years after the Wright brothers succeeded in making the first flight on our planet, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has succeeded in performing this amazing feat on another world,” he said. AAC

 

NASA’s new Mars rover launches from Florida to seek signs of past life

UNTV News   •   July 31, 2020

NASA’s next-generation Mars rover Perseverance blasted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on Thursday (July 30) atop an Atlas 5 rocket on a $2.4 billion mission to search for traces of potential past life on Earth’s planetary neighbor.

The next-generation robotic rover – a car-sized six-wheeled scientific vehicle – also is scheduled to deploy a mini helicopter on Mars and test out equipment for future human missions to the fourth planet from the sun. It is expected to reach Mars next February.

It soared into the sky under clear, sunny and warm conditions carried by an Atlas 5 rocket from the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance. The launch took place after the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California where its mission engineers were located was rattled by an earthquake.

This marked NASA’s ninth journey to the Martian surface.

Perseverance is due to land at the base of an 820-foot-deep (250 meters) crater called Jezero, a former lake from 3.5 billion years ago that scientists suspect could bear evidence of potential past microbial life on Mars.

Scientists have long debated whether Mars – once a much more hospitable place than it is today – ever harbored life. Water is considered a key ingredient for life, and the Mars billions of years ago had lots of it on the surface before the planet became a harsh and desolate outpost.

One of the most complex maneuvers in Perseverance’s journey will be what mission engineers call the “seven minutes of terror,” when the robot endures extreme heat and speeds during its descent through the Martian atmosphere, deploying a set of supersonic parachutes before igniting mini rocket engines to gently touch down on the planet’s surface.

Aboard Perseverance is a four-pound (1.8 kg) autonomous helicopter named Ingenuity that is due to test powered flight on Mars for the first time.

This was scheduled as the third launch from Earth to Mars during a busy month of July, following probes sent by the United Arab Emirates and China. The state from which the rover was launched, Florida, is currently one of the hot spots in the United States for the coronavirus pandemic. (Reuters)

(Production: Kia Johnson)

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